As with everything else in the world, American K–12 education was rocked back on its heels only three months into 2020. School closures, reopening, and recovery became the focus of teachers and state, district, and school leaders. Remote learning became the bane of students,’ parents’, and teachers’ existence. The year is now coming to an end, and there’s still a long way to go until all students are learning in person and the word “quarantine” is removed from our daily vocabulary.
In looking at Fordham’s top ten most-read posts of the year, it’s easy to see the imprint that the Covid-19 pandemic had. The list, for example, includes three of our compilations of educational resources for youth. But of course, we couldn’t help but continue to write about other longstanding priorities of ours, like high-quality curriculum and classroom instruction. Check out the countdown for yourself below.
10. Training teachers to fail, Jasmine Lane & Jon Gustafson
Speaking from their own experiences at two well-known training programs, teachers Jasmine Lane and Jon Gustafson argue that the current system in place for how we train and place teachers into classrooms is failing. They advocate for preparation programs that provide fundamental training in literacy and research-informed practices to best support student learning.
As a former CEO of a charter school network, Ian Rowe condemns The 1619 Project for presenting a notion of America to students and teachers that is inherently hostile towards Black and Brown children. He believes that this narrative develops an “enslavement” mentality, and instead insists that we teach children the power they have in their individual choices in order to develop a mindset of “empowerment.”
For her middle and high school-aged peers, Emma Finn has plenty of suggestions for educational YouTube channels that have helped her explore new interests. With all the time spent at home during school closures, she thought it the perfect time to find a new passion project, and thankfully, her list—which includes math, science, poetry, and art—has something for everyone.
7. No, this is not the new normal, Robert Pondiscio
After the pandemic closed schools this past spring, Robert Pondiscio cautioned us from throwing all of our Covid-19 recovery efforts into remote learning and instead, encouraged forward-thinking for the resumption of schools. Among other things, he advised planning for school staffing and learning models, meeting students’ social-emotional needs, and combatting learning loss.
6. Reading comprehension is not a “skill”, Robert Pondiscio
Robert Pondiscio explains why reading comprehension isn’t something that can be taught or trained in the abstract; it requires possessing knowledge about the topic you’re reading about. Using E.D. Hirsch, Jr.’s theory of reading comprehension and citing Fordham’s study as evidence, Robert recommends spending less time teaching this—not-skills—and more time on other subjects that build one’s common knowledge base.
5. Reader’s workshop: The science denial curriculum, Robert Pondiscio
Robert Pondiscio discusses Student Achievement Partners’ evaluation of a widely-used literacy program, the Teachers College’ Units of Study. The report finds that the curriculum fails to promote scientifically-validated practice in reading instruction.
4. The power of the two-parent home is not a myth, Ian Rowe
In this response to a New York Times op-ed titled “The Myth of the Two-Parent Home,” Ian Rowe argues that we should not dismiss the influence that family structure has on the economic outcomes of children of all races, citing evidence that both Black and White children raised in a two-parent household are less likely to live in poverty than their counterparts in single-parent households.
In solidarity with all the working parents during daycare and preschool closures, Victoria McDougald made a list of 32 fun yet educational resources for infants and toddlers. Her compilation includes read alouds and book lists, podcasts, YouTube channels and TV shows, and “mixed-bag” resources such as games, activities, and instructional lessons.
2. Pity the history teachers, Michael Petrilli
As if teaching during a pandemic wasn’t hard enough, Michael Petrilli discusses the incredible challenge that lies ahead for history instructors in the new school year: teaching about the origins of America during an all-out culture war. He recommends telling the American story in all its fullness and glory without slipping into politicization or falsehoods.
1. Resources for learning from home during Covid-19 school closures, by Michael Petrilli
When the pandemic first hit and school buildings shut down, Michael Petrilli sought to help his fellow parents—and newly-minted homeschool teachers—of elementary school-age children. To top the most-read Fordham posts of the year, we have his compilation of top resources for learning from home: the best educational YouTube channels, TV shows and movies, podcasts for kids, and free online instructional materials.